A good mixing bowl is reliable, sturdy, and easy to clean. Some mixers come with glass bowls, while others come with stainless steel bowls, but is one better than the other?
I’d say that it comes down to personal preference. Some people are going to prefer the glass bowl, and others are going to prefer the metal bowl. If your stand mixer comes with a glass bowl instead of a stainless-steel bowl, there’s probably a reason, but you’ll usually be able to buy a stainless-steel bowl separately and use it on the same machine.
That being said, both bowls have their advantages, and they are each going to offer a slightly different experience. I’d recommend taking a trip to the store and seeing if they have both types of bowl on display.
This is simply a way to see how each bowl looks and feels in your hand without actually buying them. I’ll explain the differences here, but getting a visual is usually more effective.
What’s the Difference?
The main difference between the two bowls is obviously material. However, the material can affect how you are able to use the bowl in a number of ways.
I know that many people prefer a stand mixer glass bowl simply because it is better looking, but stainless-steel bowls have their own benefits as well. Some people will also say that a stainless-steel bowl can chemically affect the taste of your food, but a glass bowl will not.
Although glass is generally considered to be fragile, a good mixing bowl is rather durable. Some of them are made out of tempered glass, which makes them super safe for freezers and ovens. Tempered glass, if broken, breaks into pebbles rather than shards, so it’s less dangerous.
Stainless-steel bowls, on the other hand, almost never break, and compared to glass bowls, they also don’t scratch as easily. They can be dented, though.
As far as cooking differences go, it depends on what you are preparing. When using stand mixers for doughs and batters, the mixing results don’t usually change. However, with a glass bowl, it’s usually more difficult to beat egg whites into a foam. This is because the glass bowl is more slippery than a metal bowl.
Advantages of a Stainless-Steel Bowl
So, what does a stainless-steel bowl offer that a glass bowl can’t? There are quite a few things, actually.
For one, a stainless-steel bowl is obviously stainless. Glass bowls, on the other hand, aren’t a bit more vulnerable. In my experience, glass bowls tend to develop a fogginess over time, which makes the bowl seem dirty even when it’s clean. In the beginning, glass bowls are super elegant looking, but when they do get foggy, they look rather ugly. Stainless-steel bowls look almost the exact same as time goes on.
Stainless-steel bowls are also a lot lighter than glass bowls, so handling the bowl is easier, especially when you need to pour the contents into another bowl or pan. The weight of the glass bowl can make this difficult.
Stainless-steel bowls won’t crack either. Granted, the glass mixing bowls are pretty thick and durable, but they might crack if they are dropped, and a stand mixer metal bowl would not. In the worst case scenario, a sliver of glass would break off in the mixture, unknowingly to you, and somebody winds up eating it.
I don’t think that this is very common, and from my experience, glass bowls aren’t all that fragile, but the point is that this isn’t even a concern with a metal bowl. Other advantages of the metal bowl include:
- Ability to warm over a flame
- Can be buffed and polished
- Lightweight and durable
- Remains cool during heavy beating
Advantages of the Glass Bowl
Glass bowls are a little different, and they offer several unique benefits that you don’t really get with the metal bowl.
For one, they are see-through, and they almost always have markings on the side that give you measurements. While some stainless-steel bowls have this as well, stainless steel isn’t see through, so it’s more difficult to get an accurate measurement. With a stand mixer glass bowl, you can clearly see the measurement on the side.
Having a see-through bowl is also beneficial because you’ll be able to see if you still have dry ingredients. You get to see the mixture from all angles, and if there are ingredients that didn’t get mixed, you’ll surely see them.
Glass bowls also have lids that are made to go over them, which is helpful for storing mixtures and dough.
It’s also more common for glass bowls to have a molded pouring spout, so they are essentially like giant measuring cups in addition to a mixing bowl. While a metal bowl can be heated over a flame, glass bowls can be microwaved. They are also dishwasher safe and freezer safe. To summarize, the advantages include:
- Easy-to-read measurements
- Ability to have a lid
- Ability to microwave
- Pouring spouts and handles are more common
- You can see the mixture from all angles
When to Use One Over the Other
There are certainly times where one bowl will be better to use than the other. For example, if the measurement of the mixture is a big deal, I’d recommend a glass bowl for sure. As I said, glass bowls have measurements on the side, and they are see-through, so you get a more accurate measurement.
On the other hand, let’s say you work in a restaurant. Restaurants commonly heat their stand mixer metal bowl over a flame, so if you ever need to heat a mixture after it has been mixed, you’d definitely need a metal bowl.
Glass bowls can be heated in the microwave, but some people would rather not use microwaves.
Glass is better at retaining an even temperature, which makes it ideal for making creams, especially in colder temperatures. If you made a lot of doughs and batters, you might enjoy the see-through qualities of the glass.
Stainless-steel bowls, on the other hand, are great for getting volume out of your egg whites, so if you commonly cook meringues or mousses, a metal bowl might be preferable.
Price Differences Between Bowls
In general, stainless-steel bowls are more affordable than glass, so if the price is an issue, you should go with metal. You can often buy sets of stainless-steel mixing bowls for a lower price than a single glass bowl. It all depends on where you buy from.
That being said, you can also buy high-end stainless-steel bowls with rubber grips on the bottom, handles, and other features. These will be closer in price to the glass bowl.
I’ve also seen glass bowls that are made with tempered glass, and these will cost more as well, so it’s all about how much you are willing to spend.
Where Will You Find Glass Bowls?
You’ll commonly find glass bowls in residential kitchens. Commercial kitchens will most likely be using stainless steel for cleanliness and safety, among other reasons.
I’ve also found that people often prefer the appearance of glass bowls to that of a metal bowl. They generally look better on a countertop or in a cabinet, so people that are going for a more elegant look will often choose the glass, but this still comes down to personal preference.
You can find glass bowls on both tilt-head stand mixers and bowl-lift mixers, and they are, more or less, interchangeable with metal bowls, as long as you are buying the right size.
You can purchase your stand mixer with the glass bowl included, and if you want the option to switch back and forth, you can simply buy the other bowl separately. Regardless of the brand you choose, you should be able to buy separate bowls that are made specifically for your mixer.
Which Bowl Is Right for You?
There isn’t really a clear answer for which bowl will be right for you. Everybody is different, and these bowls are, more or less, interchangeable for any situation.
Do you want to be able to see through the bowl? Do you want to be able to heat your mixture over a flame? With a metal bowl, you are sacrificing the ability to see through at every angle, but you are gaining the ability to heat over a flame, so it is all about which features are most important to you.
If you are using your stand mixer in a restaurant, however, a stainless-steel bowl may be the only option.
Breaking glass in a restaurant is extremely bad, and restaurants often avoid glass at all costs. If you were to shatter your glass mixing bowl on the floor of your restaurant, you might be forced to shut the store down until it’s cleaned up because you can’t risk glass getting into people’s food.
Otherwise, I think it’s entirely up to you. If you feel like a metal bowl would tarnish the aesthetic of your kitchen, a glass bowl may be better for you. If you are more concerned about price, go with a metal bowl.